Today millions of people will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with good luck wishes, parades and merriment. However, St. Patrick’s legacy has nothing to do with superstition and merry making. God used St. Patrick to bring the Gospel to a pagan culture. His legacy still endures.
Ireland was a beautiful island, but the people were in darkness. Druids ruled the land. Around 400 A.D., Patrick was abducted from his homeland and put on a slave ship bound for Ireland. He spent six years tending flocks for the Chieftain he was sold to.
Eventually, Patrick escaped and returned to his home and family. His faith was strengthened and he began to study for the ministry. In a vision, God called Patrick to be a missionary to Ireland. Patrick returned to the people who enslaved him as a boy.
At that time the people of Ireland worshiped multiple gods of the sky and the earth and the water. Patrick’s first task was to convince the Irish that there was only one God and that his God really did love them. Patrick was familiar with the Irish language and culture from his years in captivity, so he chose to incorporate Irish ritual and symbols into his teaching. Patrick added the sun (a powerful Irish symbol) to the cross, creating the Celtic cross so that the result would seem more natural to the people.
In 432 A.D., Patrick built a church on the site of the present day St. Patrick’s Memorial Church in Saul — the first ever Christian church in all of Ireland. It’s considered the cradle of Irish Christianity.
Legend has it that Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Patrick’s ministry lasted 29 years. He baptized over 120,000 Irishmen and planted 300 churches. He died on March 17, 461 AD. His legacy has endured 1600 years!
One of my most treasured possessions is my great-grandmother’s Bible. It is one of the few possessions she had when she left Ireland and traveled by ship to America in 1898. With a broken spine and tattered pages, the Bible really is falling apart. But it represents the hopes, dreams, and courage God gave her to build a life in this new land for future generations. It also represents the faith she passed on to her eleven children. She went to heaven in 1950, but not before she left a godly legacy that continues with me. My spiritual legacy is also to pass my faith to my children and grand children.
How can you impact future generations?
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
Data on St. Patrick gathered from: http://www.cbn.com/spirituallife/churchandministry/churchhistory/patricius_the_true_story_of_st_patrick.aspx, retrieved on March 11,2015.
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